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Posts Tagged ‘Finances’

Part of my goal here is to provide resources from other sites that I have perused that can help with saving money while still eating well and having fun. (more…)

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Start by reading the infographic and meet me at the bottom. Or, if you’re like me, scroll right to the bottom, read the post, grab a bite to eat, check facebook, make sure the kids aren’t demolishing the house,  then go back to the infographic.

The Descent into Credit Card Debt Hell

graphic by mint.com

I got my first credit card back when I started attending college. So it was, you know, only about five years ago. ha. Anyway, they based my credit ‘worthiness’ on my parent’s income, not mine. If they had based it on mine, it would have been declined. DUH. I was 19 years old and my working career consisted of a few years at a pizza parlor. The card was an American Express, believe it or not.

My mom snatched that card from my spendy little hands, before I even knew how to triumphantly say ‘CHHHARRRRRGE IT!’ properly.

Months later, I got a discover card. Then a Visa. Then the first bill. Guess they weren’t gonna let me keep that new guitar for nothing.

Then the burden of the debt climbed onto my back like a good little monkey. It’s almost like a rite of passage these days. I was fortunate, I didn’t leave college with a mountain of college loans. Then again, back then, tuition was $350 a semester and living in a three bedroom flat with several roommates brought the costs down.

Fast forward to my thirties. I was married with one child, we had our first house, a new car, and one other vehicle that I had been paying for on a five-year loan. We ‘thought’ we were living the American dream. We both thought, ‘well, this is what being an adult is about.’

Fast forward again another five years, we now had two children, two new vehicles, moved to another state with a bigger house and more debt. Crap. But my husband’s company was being acquired by UPS, so I knew we’d be able to pay it all off quickly.

Now, it didn’t help our situation that my then husband was an alcoholic, loved to buy things for himself, and ended up taking a job that paid $25K less than his current job. The stress of our debt was overwhelming and we lost everything except my truck. And when I say everything, I mean EVERYthing. We filed for bankruptcy, and walked away from our house and property. The trustee for the court for the bankruptcy scrutinized all our belongings trying to figure out a way that he could get money from us to pay off some of what we owed.

Eventually, we ended up with a $3,000 bill to the trustee because we had a little fart of a car that he felt was worth that amount. We wished. Plus we still needed the car, so we couldn’t sell it to pay off the debt. Even with bankruptcy, we ended up in debt. Go figure.

I didn’t realize the weight that the debt had placed on me. Even though I wanted to pay off that debt, I was truly relieved by the stress I was able to let go of after the bankruptcy. Still, it’s a better feeling when it can get paid off in full.

I vowed to take control of my personal finances and never depend on credit cards or credit again. My credit score was in the tanker, so I couldn’t have cared less about that and I knew if I did it right, my credit score would never matter again anyway.

Needless to say, the divorce came shortly thereafter. I became a wizard with the small income my two children and I were living off of.

Fortunately, by the time my 2nd husband and I were married I had educated myself on how to get out of debt. He came with quite a bit of it debt and had lost his house as well due to his divorce and the housing market.

When I told him my plan, and that I needed him to trust me, he let go of the financial reigns and allowed me take over. A month or so ago I came to him and showed him where we were.

Within three months, we have paid more than $4500 off and will be debt free in less than a year. That might not sound like a big deal, but that means we will have paid off more than $20K in just about a year.

This was without me going back to work (I stay at home). This was without us generating any more income than what we previously had. This was without ‘suffering’ through eating only top ramen. We eat really well, in fact. We still do things as a family (now with three kids) and he recently rebuilt the front end on his 1970 Chevelle.

When I told my husband our estimated ‘freedom from debt’ date he replied, ‘Really? That soon? Oh, man, that is amazing. Thank you.’. The emotion in his voice told the story of the burden HE has been carrying all these years.

I’m now starting to educate myself on sound investments because, baby, I’ll tell you what. Based on the money I was able to save each month to put towards debt, I will be putting towards investments when it’s all said and done.

We will not be in the 98% where people over 65 are either dead or dead broke. How about you?

The best part of all of this is, I get to show my kids how to make sound financial choices, how to save, how to spend, how to tithe (it’s not left at the church like we’ve all been taught!), how to create money and more. They see me working the finances, we talk about money when they get some and how to handle it, what it means, where it comes from, how to create more of what we have from what we have, etc.

I don’t know about you, but I was never given a financial education as a kid. No wonder I went into debt. I saw the credit cards as a kid, just never saw the bills that came in later! I won’t make that mistake with my kids. I hope you don’t either.

So the question is, are you ready to get rid of the debt you may have? Have you paid off debt? Would you care to share your story and how you were able to get out of debt?

If you have any tips that you feel contributed to you getting out of debt, I’d love to see them. If you are interested in how I did it, let me know and I’ll tell you what I did.

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